Parliament 'losing the plot', says Smith

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 21:12 02/08/2012
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PARLIAMENT 'LOSING PERSPECTIVE': National Party MP Nick Smith.

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Parliament was ‘‘losing the plot’’ with a focus on gay marriage, Mondayising public holidays, and arguing about the minimum wage, Nelson MP Nick Smith told the Contractors’ Federation annual conference in Blenheim.

Dr Smith, who was standing in for Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee, on Thursday said listening to proposals debated in Parliament last week was ‘‘like being in another planet’’.

‘‘The problem I have is that Parliament is losing the plot and losing perspective on the challenges our country faces.

We are in the worst economic downturn in my lifetime ... running deficits.

‘‘There is a hell of a challenge over the next three years to halve that and get the government books back into balance by 2014. We need to be focused on the challenge, encouraging growth, lifting exports, and improving our financial standing.’’

New Zealand depended on its natural resources for jobs and wealth, he said.

However, many people didn’t seem to understand that and were letting environmental concerns cloud the issues. Dr Smith raised the debate in Marlborough about NZ King Salmon wanting an extra 12 hectares for salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds.

‘‘The part that amazes me is some of the foolhardy rhetoric around that debate - some submissions that say if we allow that Nelson-based firm to have those 12 hectares, we’ll lose the opportunity for our kids to learn how to catch blue cod.

‘‘I say get a grip. It’s just 12 hectares in the whole Marlborough Sounds - get it in perspective.’’

He said the Green Party went so far as to say keeping fish in cages was like pigs in sow crates.

‘‘If that’s so bad, what about those evil people who keep fish in aquariums? Or people who restrict animals in paddocks behind fences?

‘‘I raise that in jest, but it’s about economic growth. This company would employ another 120 people and enable this region to increase its export earnings.’’

Dr Smith said another frustrating debate for him was the efforts of many, working through local councils, to ban ‘‘fracking’’, a mining technique.

‘‘These issues are arms length to contractors, but whether mining, dairy, or aquaculture, these are future of New Zealand industry which we need the contracting industry to build and support.

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‘‘The John Key Government focused on these efforts so we can grow our industry and make New Zealand a place where our young people want to be and can get good jobs. Contractors are at the heart of this.’’

Mr Smith has previously said he is undecided on how he will vote on the marriage equality bill. The National Party is opposed to Mondayising public holidays and raising the minimum wage.

- The Marlborough Express

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